Champions Cup: Toulouse edge impressive Munster as both teams progress to knockout stage

Toulouse saw off an ever-improving Munster side 20-16 in their Champions Cup pool clash as both teams progress to the knockout stages.

These two European heavyweights knew before kick off that they would be moving on to the Round of 16 but a bonus-point win for the hosts  could have secured them top spot in the pool while a maximum for Munster would have given them a home knockout game.

Munster enjoyed periods of dominance as their growth continues under Graham Rowntree, but an off-day with the kicking tee from fly-half Joey Carbery ultimately proved the difference on Sunday as Toulouse ran out victors by four points in an entertaining match.

Toulouse crossed the try-line just once, via Juan Cruz Mallia, as it was Melvyn Jaminet’s 15 points off the tee that saw them to a Champions Cup win.

John Hodnett and Tadhg Beirne scored Munster’s tries while Carbery and Ben Healy kicked a penalty apiece as they finish in sixth position in Pool B.

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Toulouse started the stronger, and stormed into an eight-point lead thanks to the first of Jaminet’s five penalties in the second minute.

Things got even better for the hosts five minutes later when their Argentina wing Mallia got past Shane Daly to cross in the right corner.

Jaminet pushed his touchline conversion inches wide of the far upright, but he was back on target in the 11th minute to make it 11-0.

Munster needed something to steady the ship and they hit back on the half-hour mark with their first try.

The United Rugby Championship team had made too many unforced errors in the opening quarter, but there was no stopping the outstanding Hodnett.

Carbery could not add the extras but hit the target with a penalty four minutes before the break to make it 11-6 at the interval.

Both teams came into the game knowing they were safely through to the round of 16, but the real battle was for a top-four finish to guarantee a home draw. That meant they had to go all out to the final whistle.

Having grown into the game, Munster struck with a try from Ireland lock Beirne to take the lead in the 50th minute.

Once again Carbery was wide with his routine conversion attempt and two minutes later he was replaced by Healy – not the sort of ending he wanted to a week that saw him dropped from the Irish Six Nations squad.

Jaminet and Healy swapped penalties as the lead kept changing hands, before Toulouse hit the front for the third time in the match with another Jaminet kick after English referee Karl Dickson had penalised Munster for crossing at a lineout in their 22.

There was still only one point in it, but then Healy was sent to the sin-bin for leading with his arm as he carried the ball into a tackle.

That came in the 69th minute and four minutes later the power of the home pack came into play to earn them another penalty which Jaminet kicked to stretch the gap and secure the win.

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